Rory McIlroy has responded to widespread backlash from his decision to play golf with Donald Trump last week, insisting that there was no political statement being made by the Northern Irishman.
Currently ranked third in the world, McIlroy shared a golf cart with President Trump for the entire 18-hole course as he continues to regain his sharpness ahead of next week's WGC-Mexico Championship.
However, after being slated for accepting Trump's invitation, McIlroy has had to make his intentions clear - insisting that the sport of golf itself was the solitary common ground between the pair.
"I don't agree with everything my friends and family say or do, but I still play golf with them," McIlroy professed.
"Last week, I was invited to play golf with the President of the United States. Whether you respect the person that holds that position or not, you respect the office he holds.
"This wasn't an endorsement nor a political statement of any kind. It was, quite simply, a round of golf. Golf was our common ground, nothing else.
"I've travelled all over the world and have been fortunate enough to befriend people from many different countries, beliefs and cultures.
"To be called a fascist and a bigot by some people because I spent time in someone's company is ridiculous.
"I hope, to some degree, this clarifies my decision to accept the invitation that was extended to me. Thanks to everyone for your continued support and I look forward to making my comeback in Mexico next week!"
The 27-year-old admits to being pleasantly surprised at Trump's golfing prowess, on the Trump International course that is one of a number of complexes owned by the 70-year-old.
"[Trump] probably shot around 80," McIlroy is quoted as revealing to No Laying Up. "He’s a decent player for a guy in his 70’s!"News Now - Sport News